Gardner Races to Fifth in Cruz Pedregon's Midget Owner Enjoyed Ventura Raceway From a New Angle VENTURA, Calif. (April 26, 2005) -- Damion Gardner powered the Cruz Pedregon-owned No. 71C Advance Auto Parts Midget to an impressive fifth-place ...
Gardner Races to Fifth in Cruz Pedregon's Midget
Owner Enjoyed Ventura Raceway From a New Angle
VENTURA, Calif. (April 26, 2005) -- Damion Gardner powered the Cruz Pedregon-owned No. 71C Advance Auto Parts Midget to an impressive fifth-place finish during this past weekend's United States Auto Club (USAC) Western States Midget Series event at Ventura Raceway.
Gardner, a rising star in the California Racing Association (CRA) sprint car ranks, opened his first midget opportunity of 2005 by qualifying 13th. He then blistered the Ventura bullring to win the first heat, outrunning Western States Midget regulars Josh Lakatos, Tyler Brown and No. 1 qualifier Robby Flock in the process. In the feature, Gardner was able to overcome a mid-field starting spot to grab a top-five finish. Pedregon was proud of his young driver.
"Damion did an excellent job," said Pedregon, who pilots the Advance Auto Parts Monte Carlo Nitro Funny Car in the NHRA POWERade Drag Racing Series. "The car was a little tight to start out the evening and we missed the set up a little for qualifying. He won his heat race and the car looked really good and stable. Then in the feature, he started on the inside of the sixth row and picked people off one-by-one after moving to the outside cushion of the track.
"His abilities are incredible," Pedregon continued. "Once we get him more seat time in the midget, I think we'll continue to get better. We felt we were the fastest car on track considering where Damion started the feature from."
As for Pedregon, it was the first time he enjoyed one of his race cars from outside the driver's seat.
"It was a great experience," Pedregon said. "When Damion won the first heat race it was an adrenaline rush. You would of thought that we had just won the Knoxville (Iowa) Nationals after that heat. It was awesome to watch my car from in the stands.
"I was really pushing that car mentally up there," Pedregon added. "I would raise my fist every time Damion made a pass. I must have looked like I was 12 years old, but I had a great time. I took a lot of pride in how the car looked and performed on the track and felt like I was a part of everything that was going on out there."
Gardner and the Pedregon-owned Advance Auto Parts Midget will contest a few more races in 2005. Scheduled appearances will be determined as the season progresses.